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Career Counseling Case Study – Finding a Job After Graduation

Alton, 24, was preparing to graduate from business school. Like everyone at his age and stage, he was very, very anxious about landing the right job. Unlike some of his peers, however, he didn’t want just any job; he wanted “The Job.” This made him open to his mom’s suggestion that he learn the Life\Work Design™ Process, a method she had studied and put to work with great effect some years before.

Alton had been a leader all his life, with the kind of drive that made people sit up and take notice. He was President of his fraternity as an undergraduate, masterful at setting up student events, and a serious all-around athlete who was wild about football. He wasn’t quite good enough to play varsity but he managed to inveigle his way into the management and refereeing side of the game. Soon, he’d worked his way up to a linesman position. He toyed with the idea of becoming a professional referee and refereed high school games through business school. In the end, though, he decided this wasn’t the lifestyle he wanted. He wanted to make real money and he wanted to be able to settle in his hometown, sustaining his deep friendships and family ties.

In the course of working through Life\Work Design™, Alton confirmed some of his prominent skill sets and made a few surprising discoveries. He had never realized just how effective he was in getting people to commit to a project assignment, nor that he was exceptionally gifted in talking up a worthwhile cause. These skills, added to others – like his keen analytic approach to whatever was before him, his general likability, and his obsession with detail and follow through – could make him a pretty attractive package to an employer. But how was he going to get the right employer see it?

First, Alton had to narrow his search to what truly interested him. In addition to sports, he was fascinated with: urban planning; real estate; event presentation; the creation of parks; and golf. He decided to concentrate on real estate and, in particular, the management and build out of projects. His uncle was a real estate entrepreneur but he felt approaching him was too close to home for his taste. However, he did ask his uncle to suggest some people he might talk with.

He gave himself a month to complete his survey. He wanted to insure the firms he targeted had a reputation for integrity, outstanding design and a concern for the environment. He spoke with everyone he could about what these specific real estate firms were looking for in the management of their projects – and how they trained and developed their project managers.

At the end of a month’s time, he had identified three firms he’d like to approach and present a proposal to work with them. He proceeded to very carefully craft his serious approach to each. He would present his proposal in person to each company in the order of his preference.

Alton’s Proposal

First he needed to identify the corporate need the job he wanted to do would fill:

Thank you very much for seeing me again.  I have come back to you because, of all the real estate development companies I have surveyed, it is clear that you are doing the most interesting and community-compatible projects in this area. I know that you require very tight project management in order to accomplish this.  I am proposing that you take me on in a training position, assisting in project management.

After allowing the person to react to what he was saying, Alton continued:

I can guarantee that you would find me absolutely consistent in my work ethic, on time, and on the issues.  I would like to think your senior project managers would be very comfortable leaving me in charge of a work site for periods of time within six months. 

And, he continued.:

I am so confident of this because all my life I have loved bringing off complicated projects – from a much-enjoyed New Year’s event I conceived and mounted with the help of over 20 peers to helping my step father oversee the construction of a sea wall on our island property, just to mention two. In both cases, it was my ability to assess the unexpected and marshal the appropriate resources that won the day.

I was the recipient of the Langdon Greene Award for Outstanding Leadership on graduation from college.    

 I am very committed to this community and really interested in helping to contribute to its quality facilities.

Alton was prepared with more examples and references based on his survey. In case the company probed further:

I am prepared to start right away. I think you will find that I am a quick learner and real team player. You will also find that, once I commit, I follow through.

At this point, Alton was asked what salary level he was looking for, and he said:

I am sure you have some standard ranges for the sort of job I would fill. Is there anything more you would like to know about me or my qualifications before we discuss salary? I am sure what you offer will be fair. 

They discussed a few more issues and the company representative said he would get back to Alton, whereupon Alton asked when that might be as he was talking with two other firms, one in the area and one in the upstate. The company representative responded that Alton could expect to hear within two weeks.

What Happened?

Alton approached the other two companies he had singled out as preferred places to work.

In the end, he received two offers. One company decided it wasn’t a good time to hire someone at Alton’s level. The other company with an outstanding national reputation offered him a position, but not in project management; rather they offered him a two-year analyst position with a possibility of later moving into project management. Alton’s first choice made the most compelling offer. As a point of interest, when the offer was made, Alton was successful in increasing the base salary by $15K – simply because he had the courage to ask for it. He knew from his research that it would still put him within a normal range for this sort of work.

How was this Possible?

Know yourself and the world of work you are entering! Click To Tweet

Because Alton knew himself and knew the world of work he was entering; he had learned a system that insured he was prepared and he was totally honest. (Nothing sells like the truth!) 

Another point of interest: no one asked Alton for a resume until after he was hired – his new company simply needed one for its files.


Read more: Career Counseling Case Study – Going Back to Work After Retirement

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